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tv   Bay Area Focus With Susan Sikora  CW  January 9, 2011 8:00am-8:30am PST

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♪[ music ] if 80% of us will have back pain, are you headed for surgery? get the truth from a fact doctor. and think traveling is becoming a challenge? imagine doing so blind. hear one woman's blind. i'm susan sykora, and that's on bay area focus, next.
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♪[ music ] welcome to the show. i'm susan sykora. most of us, 80%, will experience back pain at some point. now whether you overdid the yard work, or you damaged your spine into chronic pain, when your back hurts, you want relief now. even doctors often disagree on treatment. meet back doctor, kenneth light. welcome, good to have you here.
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>> thank you for inviting me. >> it says 80% of us. that's still 80%, we're still not any better at this. >> it's 80%. i've heard estimates of up to 90%. >> so why it is so many of us destined to get this? >> i guess the bad news is, a lot of us will get it. but the good news is, most of the time, it's controllable, and it goes away. most of the time, it consists of an episode or two, and the pain resolves, the body heals itself, and we don't have to worry about it. >> an episode. that's one of those doctor's words i'm thinking. episode. how long should an episode go on before you see a doctor? >> that depends on the type of pain. i suppose if the pain were very severe, and you were unable to get out of bed for a week.
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>> that's more like a chapter. a lot of people have these problems. let's go back to some of the causes of these things. first of all, i'm going to assume, because we have an obesity problem in this country, that does affect the back issues, no? aren't you putting more pressure on that spine with more weight? >> it does affect it. it says if you take a 50-pound weight, and hold it in front of you, it puts 12 pounds of pressure on a disk. if you have a big front, then that puts pressure on the back. >> so weight loss would help with some of the pain. >> yes. probably, it doesn't eradicate it. it depends a lot on the cause of the pain. there are probably hundreds of causes of back pain. >> let's get to men/women.
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high heel pump shoes. women tend to like the long shoes. they're cute, they're sexy. >> i like them. >> holiday season, get the shoes out, and we all have. but the truth is, as much as they look good, aren't they bad on bad? >> they do put pressure on the little joints. they force your back to assume an arched posture. when you arch your back, you put pressure on the little joints in the back called the facet joints. the other thing is it decreases the size of the openings of the spine, through which the spinal nerves emerge. >> you say the space between. if you thought of a skeleton, if you had a skeleton, you see the little disks going up. like dinner plates or salad plates, and they're spaced
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between those. >> yes, in between each one of those vertebrae and the disks is a spinal nerve. the spinal nerves hook up. and when there's detearation of the space, that causes cyatica. >> i had cyatica. i described it as a severe shooting pain. >> that's exactly what it is, it's like an electric shock. it's very, very disabling. >> let's talk about when people get help. a lot of folks will go to a chiropractor. i know you are a spine surgen. so therefore, are you one of those people that say chiropractors cannot help you, or do you believe you can marry
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the two treatments and work together? >> everybody can contribute something to this. there's a lot about back pain, and back problems that aren't known. i think chiropractic treatment, many people find relief from. i think the chiropractors play a valuable part in the treatment of back pain. >> how do you feel about acupuncture? >> acupuncture from a scientific point of view,, i have a bit more of a problem with. when you treat the symptoms, the cause is still present. so the symptoms usually return. there are people that get relief from chiropractic, and if you do, i certainly won't discourage it. it's a harmless treatment. >> it tends to be ongoing. you don't go to the chiropractor once, and your problem is solved, usually you
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have to go back several times. >> physical therapy. can i go back into a physical therapist with a bad episode, and have the physical therapist take care of me? or do i have to go to the doctor and then the physical therapist. >> there are situations where you have to go to the doctor and then the therapist. nowadays, it's dependent on the insurance you have more than anything else. >> i thought i was going to get treatments and they said, no, welcome to boot camp. you have to work the core muscles, the stomach, and the butt, and the thighs. the kind much natural girdle around the vertebrae. >> that's true, the abdominal muscles support the spine. the fine has less of a tend -- spine has less of a tendency to
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settle. >> if you have a gut that's protrueding and slack, that's going to put you at more of a risk. >> on some note. >> we're going to find out when is surgery needed, and what are some of the treatments, and why don't the doctors agree?
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♪[ music ] welcome back. we're here with dr. kenneth light. he of course is a back surgeon. how is your back? >> it's pretty good. i've had two episodes myself. >> how long did your episodes go on? >> about a month. that's a long time. you couldn't get out of bed? >> no, i could get out of bed, but i had difficulty brushing my teeth. hi -- i had to go to the operating room and operate, and i had difficulty doing that. >> dentists and doctors, they were one of the worst because of the positions you were in for a long time. >> if you have to stand. >> a lot of people in sales are on their feet. if it's genetic, are you going
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to have a bad spine? >> it's definitely genetic. just because one of your parents has a back problem doesn't mean you will have it, but there's a tentcy for families to have these types of problems. for instance, if your mother or father had surgery, it's more likely you will have surgery on your back. >> okay. let's talk about the tests because i would think by now, we have state of the art, radiology, get under the machine, it shows you the whole picture. >> it does. >> if it does, you would get an mri, or cat scan? >> the mri is the state of the art visual for the spine. >> this machine is taking a picture of your back, yes? >> what it does is it mag advertises the water molecules in your body, and bounces a radio wave off of the molecule, and that's picked up by a magic
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machine and the picture is made. >> so it's pretty accurate now. >> it's very accurate. >> so why can't doctor it's agree on my treatment? i come to you, you say mri, and you still may not know what's wrong? >> one is the mri scan shows pathlogical abnormalities in the spine, but it doesn't necessarily mean that that abnormality is the cause of your pain. all of the disks in the spine have a tendency to wear as we get older. the mri scan will pick that up. but a worn disk doesn't necessarily mean that disk is causing the pain. so it really still takes a doctor to sit down, talk to you, find out what the symptoms are and compare the symptoms that you have, and the pain pattern that you have to the picture. only then can you really make an accurate diagnosis. >> let's talk about surgery now. you are a surgeon, so i'm going
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to guess you have, i don't know, do you have a bias if i talk to a back surgeon, is a back surgeon going to have more of a tendency to sane, you know what? we can clear this up with surgery, and you'll have physical therapy after and no problem. >> the true fact about surgery, it's the last resort. >> if i come to a surgeon, and he or she is reputable, that should not be the first line of attack. >> most likely, yes, there are certain conditions that require surgery on a more rapid, and urgent basis. if your spinal cord is being damaged or pinched, the spinal cord is an extension of your brain, and it cannot withstand pressure of a long period of time. if you have a condition that is producing paralysis, that would pro seed to surgery sooner than, say just a pain condition. >> is there anything else you
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would do before surgery? there's injections i believe you can get. >> if you have just simple back pain, there are many things you can do. therapy, chiropractic treatment. antiinflammatory medicine. sometimes injections. there's a whole host of things that we do, before we would proceed to surgery. >> i did have the, in the surgery, and the cyatica pain went away. why take an ibuprofen or two on a plane, because sits for a long time, and people doing this at work, that's harmful. >> sitting is death to the back. >> say that again. >> sitting is death to the back. if you sit for a long period. if you have a back condition, and sit for a long period of time, 99% of people will complain of pain.
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you shouldn't. >> it's worse than standing? >> sitting is worse than standing, yeah. >> i was told also, and i hate to go through my history, i was told to lie down on the floor and bend your knees. >> it's good advice. bending your knees takes the pressure off the cyatica nerve. and when it's relaxed it will be less likely to produce pain. >> if i have to have back surgery, let's say, maybe the simplest form, basically, how long is my recovery going to be? how long should i expect to be out of commission? >> the beauty of it is that there have been many advances in surgery in the last, even the last five years. so surgery falls into several categories. if you have a simple pinched nerve, due to a herniated disk, and you try the conservative things, and they're unsuccessful, you could have a
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fragment of disk removed, and your pain will be relieved immediately, and you can probably go back to work in two or three weeks. >> a couple of quick things here. stress. does it play a part? >> wherever your having pain, stress magnifies the symptoms of pain. stress is never the cause of the pain, but it certainly makes it a lot more difficult to deal with adversity. >> another quickie. posture. my posture. if i have better posture. >> posture is overrated in terms of symptom atology. it's very difficult to affect posture. if you have a tendency to arch your back too much, standing with a flatter posture can take some of the pain off it. but it's a very difficult thing to learn and maintain.
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>> is a mattress going to make any difference? if you upgrade to one of these things with the numbers or filled with feathers or something else? >> yes. >> really? >> yes. >> which one? >> you wanted the short answer. >> which mattress? >> a firm mattress. >> firm, really? >> and some of the memory foam mattresses are excellent. they support the spine. you have to try them out first. but a firm mattress in general is better. >> i thought you were going to say a softer mattress. people used to put boards under their mattress. is that a good idea? >> yes, because it makes it firmer. >> dr. kenneth light, thank forcing about here. you have a website, and it's called drkennethlight.com.
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stay with us. more ahead.
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♪[ music ] welcome back. imagine losing your eyesight. could you adjust to everything as you know it? the way you are in the world would definitely change. it happened to susan. susan lost her sight at the age 51. but perhaps her vision expanded. she explains in her new book, traveling blind, adventures in vision with a guide dog by my
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side. susan krieger thank you for being here. and you're here with sheila. she's a beautiful dog. the first no-no. take us to school, gee, she is cute can i pet her? >> yes. she's a tall female dog, and she catches people's attention, they come up right away, and they will often start to pet her, a or ask if they can pet her. >> but she's technically not a pet. >> i think many people in this area know. because guide dogs is in san rafael. many people don't know, and she looks appealing, and people think you can pet a guide dog, but a guide dog needs to maintain their concentration on guiding me, so she needs not the to be distracted. >> so if i'm patting, and ogling, and agoles her, that distracts her. >> yes. >> how did you lose your side? >> it's a rare auto immune
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disease. it just happened about ten years or so ago. and i developed inflammation on my retina. and that caused swelling and scarring, and many effects. so i don't see quickly. some things i see, others i don't. it's very hard to know. so i am legally blind. i'm partly blind. i have some sight. but my blindness makes moving through the world hazardous. i was hit by a car. i didn't see it coming. hit me, it was in a blind spot of my right side, tossed me on the hood, threw me on the ground, before i had a guide dog. luckily, it was a warning side that said you think you see. from then on, i wanted to have a guide dog. i started to use a cane. but i got a dog, because safety while being mobile is so important. >> i would think it would be difficult. correct me if i'm wrong.
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for someone who has sight most of her life at 51 to be told she's going to lose her sight, or a great deal of it, or become blind even vs. someone who has been blind from a very young age, where they have adjusted all along, and that's pretty much what they know. >> yes. my sense is that both types of experiences have their difficulties, and it often does depend on the person, and what they're surrounded with. for myself, it's awful. i sort of accepted it as that's what's going to be. it's not the worst thing in the world, it's not life- threatening. >> i didn't worry about your teaching abilities, and you're a writer. there are other ways to write, obviously, you could speak into something. >> the computer talks. i did worry, and i did have my fears, those are unavoidable. but i didn't have a deep fear
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that going blind would be a terminal illness, which it isn't. what i found is it's actually a new adventure. that's what i write about in the book, partly to address this question. people fearing the darkness. i talk about my adventures in mobility. what worlds this opens up for me. >> you also talk about traveling. i would wonder if when you travel and you have a disability, if you will, or a situation where you're blind, do they make enough accommodations for you? do they say, you come to the front of the line, or is it more difficult negotiating all of that? >> yes, i do write about that, and have a collection of stories. a chapter called airport stories. it is, i believe better than it was before. but there are many, just going
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through security with a dog at my feet, i used to not ask for separate help. and my dog would stray from me, and now i ask for assistance, i ask for directions. you have to know as a blind person, exactly what you need, and assert it. they don't know in airports what to do with a blind person, or a blind person with a guide dog, they're much better. >> if you're independent, you want to do everything on your own. if your dependent, you want someone to do everything for you, and the interdependence, you're in the middle? >> yes, i found in airports, i need to ask for directions. or in a a strange city or store, i need to assert myself, and say, can you tell me where the cheese is? can you tell me how to get here
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to there? >> i think one of the things that is so wonderful about your book, from what i've read about it, can teach the rest of us, how to interact. sometimes our behavior may be because we're afraid of offending, or trying to be politically correct. because we're afraid we're going to do the wrong thing, we duck tail into really bad behavior. you write about this in one chapter called, are you training that dog? i thought to myself, you can't be getting asked this much each day, but you were. >> the question, are you training that dog, i started walking, especially the city streets in san francisco. i would find people come up to me, and say, are you training that dog? at first, i thought, maybe i'm doing something wrong. it was asked with great frequency. i thought i had my skills and i
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soon began to feel that people didn't recognize me as blind. i didn't fulfill a stereotype. which i think means i bumbled, and i couldn't do it well, and my eyes would look odd, and who knows what else? answering this question, at first, it kind of bothered me. i wanted to be seen as a blind person. that's why i had my dog. i write about my interexperiences and my experience with others in trying to come to terms with this question. >> we're out of time. i wish i had more time to talk to you. because your partner, estelle also brought a lot of love in your life. and helps someone with a challenge. for more information on susan, and her dog, you can visit her
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website at susankrieger.stanford. edu. we leave you now with steve silvers. san francisco classic, beach babylon. i'm susan sykora. thanks for watching. ♪ [ music ]
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